Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oklahoma: Change for Commutations?

News OK reports that, according to the State's attorney general, the State's Pardon and Parole Board "acted improperly when it approved new eligibility requirements for inmates applying for a shorter sentence." Consequently, the Board "withdrew the new policy" and will regroup to create "new eligibility parameters for commutation." The current process "can take months" and it requires the approval of the Legislature or governor.

It is also observed that the 5 member Board is "relatively new." Its supposedly flawed proposal:
... opened up commutation to more nonviolent offenders. The board wanted to allow nonviolent offenders who had served at least 36 months the ability to apply and require violent offenders to serve half of 85 percent of their sentence before applying. Nonviolent offenders serving life without parole would have been required to serve 22 years before applying, and violent offenders sentenced to life without parole would have to first serve 38 years. At the time, offenders applying for commutation were required to have 20 years remaining on their sentence. 
Now, the Board "will consider commuting the sentences of 12 inmates on Wednesday," among them a mother of three serving 30 years for "enabling" child abuse by her former boyfriend. He actually admitted to his offense and served a mere two years in jail.

News OK reports that there have been no commutation granted in OK "in more than three years" and in June, the Board "addressed" a "backlog" of commutation requests by "whittling down 166 applications to 16." Twelve were granted hearings, and the other four are to be considered at a later date. See full story here.

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